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Model Rocketry Today

Andy Stipps, Model Rocket Expert

Andy Stipps, Model Rocket Expert

No model rocket really looks complete without decals. “A decal or two will go a long way in livening up the appearance of your model rocket,” noted enthusiast Lurv Sprayberry of the Northeastern Lankville Hill area. “Correct choice of color will also increase the contrast of your rocket and make it easier to see as it flies into the air,” Sprayberry added, right before a giant soda was accidentally knocked over onto his rocket supplies. “Gee,” Sprayberry stated, as he attempted to fight back the tears. “I’ll have to explain this to Mom. She’s not going to be happy.”  Sprayberry buried his face into a pillow and we felt it best to take our leave.

Indeed, incorrectly-applied decals tend to bubble and some decals can detract from the glossy surface of the model. With a little effort, however, these problems can be eliminated.  Model Rocketry Today will show you how.

Firstly, you will want to visit your neighborhood model rocketry retailer.  We recommend “The Model Rocket Cave” or “Sandy’s”– both are big national chains which will carry a wide selection of decals.  Letters and numbers for identification purposes are also produced.  You will also need a few simple tools to help you get started:

Appropriate setup.  Note the tweezers.

Appropriate setup. Note the tweezers.

-a sharp pair of scissors or a sharp modeling knife.
-a small dish of warm water.
-a pair of flat-end tweezers (the type used by stamp collectors work well).
-a big hamper
-many jars of clear paint
-a soft clean rag (or use your shirt)
-a jar of Restrainaset (a popular product available at the stores mentioned above)
-an oscillating fan with different settings

To apply decals successfully, you need to be clean. For example, Mr. Sprayberry would not be in a good position to apply rocket details because of the giant soda he spilled. Keep drinks and sauces out of your work area. Spread out a piece of white paper and place your model on a workbench, table, or a level piece of ground (if you live in the woods). Now, clean the area where the decal is to be applied. Wait until the surface is dry. Turn on your oscillating fan to the “low” setting.

Dip your decal in the dish of warm water for about 15-30 seconds until it is ready to come loose from the paper. If the decal breaks apart into a series of little paper disappointments, do not lose heart or begin wailing monstrously or go completely insane. Remember, the decal can be purchased again. Now, move your oscillating fan to the “medium” setting.

Remove the paper backing with the tweezers and dump it in the big hamper. With the decal still wet, slide it into position on your rocket. If the decal starts to dry out, use a paintbrush to apply a drop of warm water to it. Then, brush some of the Restrainaset over top to soften the decal. This will allow it to conform to any irregularities in your rocket (such as rivet detail, grooves, or the effects of a hideous monstrosity whose congealing breath will mean ultimate death). Now you will want to utilize your oscillating fan on the “high” setting– Restrainaset is made of many poisonous, mephitic chemicals and can also catch fire easily. The fan will help alleviate the effects although you may want to open several windows as well.

Once you are finished, sit aside your model for 3-6 hours. It may even take up to 12 hours in humid weather or if you’re in the woods. Clean up your supplies while you’re waiting– you can probably use the big hamper. It won’t be long before your rocket is ready for flight!

If a little care is exercised, the appearance of your rocket can be significantly improved through the application of details (conclusion).

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